Tag Archives: ethics

Can Marketing Ever Be A Force For Good?

Can marketing be good for society? Or is it just about lies and capitalism?

woman-hand-smartphone-laptop

Can marketing be a socially beneficial occupation? Image from Pexels, CC0 license.

Then and Now: My Relationship With Marketing
A year ago, when I was a third year student writing my dissertation, if you told me that in 2016 I’d be working in marketing and social media, I’d never have believed you. Continue reading

Wish 20: End Ecocide by 2020, their copyright.

Ecocide – The 5th Crime Against Peace

Have you heard of ecocide?

Global Initiative Eradicating Ecocide – chaired and founded by international barrister Polly Higgins – defines ecocide as:

The extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished.

Continue reading

Business for the Steady State

Evening, lovely readers.

Sorry I haven’t had time to post very often lately, I’m in my second year of university now and it’s hotting up on the workload front. Anyway, here’s my next post in my ‘Transitioning to a Steady State’ mini series. In my last post I wrote about how individuals can help us to transition to a steady state. Now I’m going to write about the role of businessContinue reading

Save the NHS

 

 

Today I dragged myself out of bed to attend a local protest fighting to save the NHS.

We started the march at the local hospital, and then the 300-strong of us proceeded into and around the city before finishing with several speeches from campaigners, local MPs and union leaders. Call me an activist, but there’s just something about marching along with hundreds (or ideally thousands) of people, waving placards and chanting in unison, that makes me feel alive. I think it’s just the feeling of solidarity, and the knowledge that all these people cared enough about the issue to get up on a saturday morning and commit their free time to this public display of opinion. It’s a good feeling.

If you don’t know what’s been going on, let me lay it down for you.

Since 1948, Britain has had a National Health Service which is free at the point of use, available to absolutely everyone and publicly funded by the taxpayer. Although we’ve all moaned about the quality of service from time to time, the fact remains that it’s brilliant to have such a service, and many countries – even very rich ones – don’t have anything like it. Now, the Coalition government is in the process of cutting large portions of the NHS and privatising what’s left.

A lot of people are rightly furious about this, as we strongly believe healthcare should be a civic right and not a commodity.

In April 2013 the government changed the law, meaning that they now have no legal obligation to provide healthcare as a public service. Privatisation has already begun, and a shocking £1 billion of taxpayer’s money has already been used to pay shareholder dividends of private “health” corporations. £3 billion of our money has also been wasted on reorganization – turning what was recently a public service into fragmented and lucrative business opportunities. This is all in a time of political austerity, where 5,600 nurses have recently lost their jobs, waiting lists are lengthening, ambulances are under stress and the government has proposed £20 billion of spending cuts on healthcare within just two years.

One of my local hospitals recently had a success story related to this, but it was a prelude to further worry. A health minister wanted to shut down their accident and emergency ward, and their maternity ward. There was huge local opposition, and the community (aided by the staff of the hospital) won a campaign to keep these vital services. However, the government now wants to change the rules. A proposed amendment to the Health and Social Care Act will enable them to shut down not just departments but whole hospitals, even if local GPs say they are essential.

I think all this is diabolical.
We can’t have something as important as healthcare handled by the market, as a commodity. What if people can’t afford it? In America, where they don’t have a public health service, there is a gaping chasm between the healthcare of the rich and poor. The rich can afford cutting edge treatment, the middle class fork out for average healthcare and the poor make do with shoddy treatment at best or nothing at worst. This deepens inequality and stokes the fire of ”class warfare”.

I don’t want that to happen here in the UK, so that’s why I marched.

~

Public service, not private profit!


More Information:

http://www.keepournhspublic.com/index.php
http://www.nationalhealthaction.org.uk/
http://www.gmb-southern.org.uk/gmb-members-to-join-defend-the-nhs-rally-in-brighton-this-saturday/

The logo for the community garden project.

Volunteering Time

Have you ever thought about volunteering?

The second year of my degree includes a module called Community Engagement, which requires me to do at least thirty hours of volunteering with a local sustainable development project. Some people think it’s unfair to expect us to work for free when we’re paying £9,000 per year for the pleasure. I do see their point, however they’re not really taking it in the spirit it was meant – I think it’s very progressive; it’s a good way of putting our theoretical knowledge into practise. Continue reading

Ethical Investments

You’d expect there to be a trade-off between ethics and profits when it comes to investments. But last month the independent comparison website moneyfacts.co.uk found that investments in the ethical sector have been growing faster than mainstream investments during the last year, and also over the last three years, within the UK.

“The average ethical fund has posted gains of 24% over the last year,
compared with 18% growth from the average non-ethical fund”.
– Moneyfacts.co.uk

I found this quite surprising, given the current economic climate. Of course, economic growth in general is causing more problems than it’s solving in the world today, because our global economy is too big for the biosphere to sustain. I honestly think countries like the UK should begin to look towards transitioning to a steady state- a no-growth economy with a sustainable scale and focus on human well being. To reach a sustainable scale, a temporary period of degrowth will be necessary. So from that point of view, even green growth becomes oxymoronic and not as innocent as it seems. However, post-growth economics has a long way to go before it’s accepted as a national goal, and being realistic about the shorter term, ‘green growth’ is a lot better than standard growth.

So in that light, this news about ethical investments raking in the cash is a cause for celebration. Ethical investments avoid certain industries such as fossil fuels, the arms trade, genetic modification, animal testing, tobacco and nuclear power, and the best ones focus on industries that have a positive impact such as renewable energy and waste management. I’d be even more jubilant if all investments in the category were this proactive, but most of them just avoid the worst stuff.  Still, ethical investments have really taken off, as their performance at first was pretty meagre and experts predicted they wouldn’t grow above £500 million in the UK. 10 years ago they had reached £4 billion and now they’ve reached £11 billion. Hopefully this will be sending a clear signal to well-meaning investors everywhere that they can make money while maintaining some morals!

Most of us may not be of the investor class, but we do have bank accounts. Banks invest our money (plus extra funds that they create out of thin air, via the magic of fractional reserve banking) by loaning it out to businesses. I’m sorry to say that if you use one of the larger high street banks then your money is in all likelihood being used for all sorts of nasty ends that you probably wouldn’t agree to if you were asked.

I use the Co-Operative Bank because not only do they offer decent overdrafts on their student accounts, they also have a comprehensive ethical policy. It covers human rights, international development, ecological impact, animal welfare and social enterprise. I was happy to see they reject fossil fuel and factory farming companies, among other commitments, and they make an effort to invest in renewable energy and social enterprises. They also made some commitments that I hadn’t even considered, such as rejecting companies that sell arms to repressive regimes or torture equipment! The fact that they even mentioned this implies that, scarily enough, other banks do invest in this kind of stuff. If you’re interested in ethical banking, then check out Triodos Bank as well as the Co-Operative Bank.

I think it’s really important to think about where our money goes, as well as where it comes from. Learning to take ethics into account while investing could be the stepping stone we need before embracing the transition to a steady state economy. To be fair, it’s not long ago that anything green was considered pretty niche. I think we can safely say that ethical investing is a huge step in the right direction!

All rights to whoever took this lovely picture.

Unjust Badger Cull

Cases of the cattle disease Bovine TB have been steadily rising in the UK for many years, and the government have decided to deal with the problem by implementing a pilot scheme throughout the counties of Somerset and Gloucestershire for badger culling. The pilot scheme aims to cull 5,000 badgers, 90% of which will be free-shot and 10% of which will be caged and then shot.

You might think this is a sad necessity. But actually, although badgers have been killed on suspicion of their spreading the disease for decades, the science doesn’t support this suspicion!

All rights to whoever took this lovely picture.

All rights to whoever took this lovely picture.

Bovine TB has been a problem infecting cattle herds since at least 1930, and in 1971 the discovery of a badger carcass infected with TB lead to the assumption that these shy nocturnal mammals were responsible for spreading the disease. After this date, thousands were culled before the government commissioned a proper scientific study to assess the effectiveness of this measure. The Independent Scientific Group (ISG) was set up to conduct what was called the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT). This trial took 9 years to complete (1998 – 2007), cost $50 million of taxpayers money and is considered the best scientific data available on the subject.

This is a summary of what the ISG found:

“Our overall conclusion is that after careful consideration of all the RBCT and other data presented in this report, including an economic assessment, that badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the control of cattle TB in Britain.

We further conclude from the scientific evidence available, that the rigorous application of heightened control measures directly targeting cattle will reverse the year- on-year increase in the incidence of cattle TB and halt the geographical spread of the disease.” 

(ISG 2007, Paras 10.92 & 10.93, respectively)

Why the government have decided to completely ignore the study that was commissioned, I have no idea. I can only imagine it’s because they can’t think of anything better to do, and culling badgers makes it look like they’re dealing with the problem.

When I first heard about this, my first thought was that bovine TB is probably increasing because factory farming of cows forces them to live in such awful conditions that – unsurprisingly – they’re prone to disease! I don’t have any scientific studies to back this up, but this article in The Guardian at least shows others are on the same page. It does make sense. Animals that are stressed, malnourished, unclean and cramped are more prone to all sorts of illnesses because their immune systems are weak. In fact in many of the worst farms it’s only large doses of antibiotics that keep the animals alive. Because cattle are kept in such large herds, the disease spreads rapidly and the centralised food system means it’s spread around the country – and beyond – quickly as well.

Intensive factory farming of cows. Not my image.

Intensive factory farming of cows. Not my image.

Many people agree that the badger is simply being used as a scapegoat, to avoid the real challenge of cleaning up our cruel, wasteful and unhealthy meat and dairy industry.

Badgers are one of the most distinctive wildlife species in Britain, and have been living here for longer than the islands have been populated by humans. They’re actually protected by law, as an important part of our biodiversity and heritage, and yet the planned culls would supercede that protection. If the pilot study leads on to a wider cull, the badger population of Britain will take a severe decline, probably causing them to become a threatened species. This would be a terrible shame in itself, but who knows how this could affect the ecology of the badger’s woodland habitats?

Image from www.wildlifeextra.com

Image from www.wildlifeextra.com

From an ecological perspective, this is disgusting. Just because we have a dodgy food system doesn’t mean we have the right to exterminate another species.

Resources:
http://www.badgergate.org/bovine-tb/
http://teambadger.org/badgers.html
http://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2012/jul/15/letters-badger-cull-bovine-tb